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New Utrecht has no answers for dominant Fort Hamilton

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Curtis Smith stood in perfect position, waiting for Frank Laino’s underthrown pass at the goal line. New Utrecht’s top cornerback had his hands on the ball, but from behind came Brandon Reddish. The junior tipped the ball away from Smith not once, but twice, and to himself for a 29-yard touchdown reception.

“We practiced that a lot, but we don’t have anyone to simulate his athleticism,” New Utrecht coach Alan Balkan said of Reddish, who also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 76-yard reverse.

It was that kind of afternoon for the Utes %u2013 even when they did everything right, the result turned in the Tigers’ favor in the 49-6 regular-season-ending loss in Bay Ridge.

New Utrecht, who saw its three-game win streak snapped like a twig, still made the playoffs, earning the No. 11 seed and drawing No. 6 Campus Magnet. Undefeated Fort Hamilton (9-0), meanwhile, is No. 1 and will host No. 16 Grand Street Campus next Sunday.

They drove into Fort Hamilton territory three times, but came away with just six points, on quarterback Jordan Paul’s three-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Chillious. The first score of the third quarter cut the Tigers lead to 28-6. Of course, James Howell returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to pay dirt.

“They have a really good defense; that whole team is disciplined,” Paul said. “On some plays, everything was covered. %u2026 Their whole team is like Division I prospects. They do almost everything right.”

New Utrecht (5-4) turned the ball over three times and put itself in poor position by committing several unnecessary penalties. The Utes fell behind so quickly they had to throw the ball, negating any impact running back Davon Collins, who entered play second in the city in rushing yards (1,094), could make.

“I don’t think we showed our best stuff today,” Balkan said.

His plan is to erase the memories of the debacle. In a brief post-game speech to his team, Balkan implored them to forget about the mistakes, the missed tackles, the blown assignments, the lopsided final score.

“We’re in the playoffs,” Balkan said. “It’s over. The game means nothing. Move on. It’s not the end of the world.”

Balkan does not plan to show much film of the loss, except the positive plays. He will harp on the accomplishment of returning to the playoffs after last year’s dismal two-win campaign, and what it will take to go into Cambria Heights and knock off the 7-2 Bulldogs.

“We got to get this out of our heads,” Paul said. “We got to come into the playoffs with intensity.”

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